Khabib Nurmagomedov‘s MMA promotion has its first United States main event.
Tyrone Spong and Antonio “Bigfoot” Silva will headline Eagle FC 44 on Jan. 28 in Miami, officials told ESPN on Monday. The three-round heavyweight bout will mark Spong’s return to MMA after eight years. Spong is a world-class kickboxer and an undefeated pro boxer. Silva, meanwhile, is a UFC veteran and former MMA champion. Eagle FC 44 will take place at the newly built FLX Arena.
This will be Eagle FC’s first event in the United States. Nurmagomedov, the all-time UFC great, has owned the promotion, formerly known as Gorilla Fighting Championship, since last 2020. Since he took over, Eagle FC has run 15 events and all but two were in Nurmagomedov’s home country of Russia. Nurmagomedov told ESPN last week that the plan is to run several big events next year in the U.S., beginning with one on Jan. 28.
Spong (2-0) is a top-notch combat sports athlete in multiple sports. The Suriname native, who trains out of Florida, has not fought in MMA since two fights with World Series of Fighting in 2012 and 2013, both victories. Spong, a former kickboxing champion, has been focusing recently on his pro boxing career. Spong, 36, is the current WBC Latino and WBO Latino heavyweight champion in boxing.
Silva (19-13, 1 NC) is a former EliteXC heavyweight champion in MMA and veteran of 11 UFC fights. The Brazil native is a jiu-jitsu black belt and will have a significant size advantage over Spong — “Bigfoot” is 6-foot-4 and cuts to make the 265-pound heavyweight limit, while Spong is 6-foot-2 and typically weighs in the 230s. But Silva, 42, has lost six straight in MMA and has only one win in his last 11 fights. He has also been knocked out in five of his last six MMA fights, plus a knockout loss to Glory champion Rico Verhoeven in a 2017 kickboxing match and a KO loss to Gabriel Gonzaga in a Bare Knuckle FC bout in 2019.
UFC Hall of Famer and former UFC light heavyweight champion Rashad Evans will also return from retirement at Eagle FC 44.
No other Eagle FC 44 matchups have been announced. Nurmagomedov said he plans to make more announcements at a news conference in Miami on Dec. 15.